Ken Boettcher
Ken Boettcher Inga Williams

League fan appreciated dedicated helpers during tough times

KEN Boettcher's major legacy in Ipswich sport will be his commitment to trying to improve everything he was involved with.

He enjoyed many highs, and some lows, after being elected secretary of Booval Swifts Rugby League Football Club in 1956.

As he looks back over the decades, Boettcher highlights a problem facing many clubs these days.

"It is tough going,'' Boettcher said.

"In my early days, there were very few sports that people really followed to any extent. It was mainly cricket in the summer and rugby league in the winter, and soccer was always very strong in Ipswich.

"But apart from those three sports, you didn't have too much opposition when you're looking to get sponsorships and that sort of stuff. Now it's such a myriad of sports and people chasing sponsors.''

Despite the challenges, Boettcher said one of Ipswich's strengths was dedication.

"We always had really good hard-working volunteers, right from when I was first involved in rugby league,'' he said.

Boettcher appreciated the work of people like Jack Lynch, Gov Clark, Jack Morgan and Des Green. Harry Russell was the man who got Boettcher involved with Booval Swifts.

"It's now very difficult to get volunteers,'' the retiring Swifts Sports Club chairman said.

"There's no loyalty in clubs.

"In the early days, there was a lot of loyalty and there weren't too many people changing clubs.''

In between his administrative work, Boettcher managed to watch many rugby league Test matches, grand finals in Sydney and interstate matches before the State of Origin concept was hatched.

He also joined every Kangaroos supporters group from 1978 until the last official tour in 1994.

At one stage, he held season tickets for three NRL clubs - the Broncos, Seagulls and Crushers, regularly attending their games.

Back on Ipswich soil, one of his favourite viewing places during the 1950s and early 1960s was at the Oval at North Ipswich (near the old Gasworks).

"You could stand under the grandstand and there was a gap between the ground and the first row of seats at eyeline height,'' he said.

One of the highlights was helping instigate Four Codes days between rugby league, rugby, Aussie rules and football (soccer) in the 1970s.

The games were played at Rangers ground at Woodend, Coalstars field at Bundamba and Swifts rugby league home.

"We had to change the rules because in the really early days, the AFL used to win the damn thing,'' he said.

One of Ipswich's popular meeting spots was the former North Star Hotel.

Boettcher remembers that well, as he does much of Ipswich's rugby league history.



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